To try to improve Los Angeles County's weakened trauma care system, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday asked fire and health officials to look into making greater use of helicopters to transport critically ill patients.
The board said it would consider adding a helicopter, at a cost of $1.8 million to $2.8 million, to be used solely for moving accident and crime victims. Currently, the Fire Department provides helicopters for medical emergencies, but the recent loss of seven hospitals from the county's trauma care network has prompted officials to consider relying more on such aircraft.
In a report to the board, Fire Chief John W. Englund backed the proposal and suggested that a twin-engine Sikorsky S-76 would be a good helicopter for trauma care missions. He also told supervisors that his department's own fleet of four helicopters is aging and should be replaced.
The board said it would consider a replacement program for the helicopters, which range in age from 11 to 20 years, if money can be found to phase in the new helicopters.